Perhaps it is ironic that in an attempt to escape the daily grind of city life and free ourselves of the cyclical routine that characterised our London lives we have stumbled into a lifestyle that is governed by repetitive structure more than we could have imagined. We are not perturbed by this unavoidable routine and fully accept that in order to continue our trajectory towards a Baltic autumn such repetition is necessary, but nonetheless it is an interesting observation to air.
“Routine is the enemy”, I thought before we departed. “Full time employment leads to routine which, in turn, leads to comfort and, ultimately, a monotonous lifestyle”.
Yes, it seems like I talk to myself a lot.
There are many cyclists who have travelled much further than us and for greater swathes of time who have also pointed out the prevalence of routine in their day-to-day lives. Although this is a price worth paying for exploring the world on one’s own terms, many bicycle travellers cannot escape the realisation that, much like the pedals on their bike, their lives are characterised by a similarly rhythmical revolution.
Here is our routine.
Wake up. Instantly go back to sleep. Wake up again. Listen out for rain. No rain. Yet. Still don’t know what the time is. It’s cold outside of the sleeping bag. Check the time. It’s Early. Kilometres must be cycled today. Sit up. Get dressed without leaving the sleeping bag. Leave the sleeping bag. Deflate mattress. Pack away. Open the tent. Brave the morning air for the first time. Look around for the Sun. Guess we must have left that back in Berlin. Pack the tent away.
Oats for breakfast. Splash of milk. Coffee. If necessary. Usually necessary. Brush teeth. Splash water on my face. I’m ready for the ride.
First priority. Find supermarket. Buy food for the day. Maybe a cheeky pastry or two as well. Food stocks replenished. Chocolate supply replenished. So far so good.
Begin riding. Slip into familiar mechanical rhythm. Observe scenery. Decide whether scenery is beautiful or dull. Usually beautiful. Sometimes dull. Keep drinking water. Continue to follow road. Break for lunch. Ride some more. Embrace inevitable monotony. Start to daydream. Mainly about dinner. Sometimes about eating chips. I love chips.
Sometimes we find wild blueberries and sometimes we stumble across a fascinating ghost town covered in street art. Other times we cycle through a quaint town and decide to stop for an afternoon coffee. Sometimes we notice some menacing rain clouds so dive under a bus stop to prevent inevitable drenching. Occasionally we get lost and have to cycle unnecessary kilometres to rectify our mistake. This is annoying. Ice cream is a huge tempter so we usually stop if this temptation becomes overwhelming. Slowing down to appreciate where we are and what we are doing is a pursuit we try to adhere to. Sometimes we just want to cover kilometres though so we push on. Details differ. The structure of the day remains the same.
Find campsite after cycling well over our pre-planned distance for the day. Pitch tent. Inflate mattress. Unroll sleeping bag. Make slightly disappointing version of the amazing dinner that was the subject of todays daydreaming. Do I want tea? Probably do. Make tea. Excellent decision. Write diary. Update total distance for the journey. Set alarm for tomorrow in a futile gesture to wake up at sunrise. Brush teeth. Lay down. Shiver. Warm up. Sleep.